For the Public

About Registered Nurses

Registered Nurses (RNs) are vital members of a functioning health care system and currently comprise the largest number of health care providers in BC and across Canada. Registered Nurses are trusted health professionals who have successfully completed post-secondary nursing education and are able to provide safe, ethical, and competent nursing services for the promotion and maintenance of health and the prevention of illness.

Some Registered Nurses also pursue additional education to obtain advanced nursing knowledge and clinical expertise. Registered Nurses who pursue this path also become known as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).

Some Registered Nurses may also complete additional education in the areas of reproductive health, remote nursing, and RN first call (for Registered Nurses who work in small and rural communities). Registered Nurses who pursue these certifications become known as Certified Practice Registered Nurses (RN-C).

Registered Nurses complete accredited post-secondary nursing education and adhere to very high regulatory standards as part of their practice. All Registered Nurses in BC are registered health professionals with the provincial regulatory body.

What do Registered Nurses do?

Registered Nurses provide health care services to patients and clients of all ages and in all states of health including those who may be acutely or chronically ill, and in stable or unstable condition. Registered Nurses may assess your health status, coordinate health services in other locations and with other health providers, plan out, evaluate and implement health strategies and treatments, and share information and resources to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

Registered Nurses work in all departments and units in hospitals, clinics, and urgent care centres. In these settings, Registered Nurses may evaluate the health status and determine level of urgency for patients entering emergency departments (triage), make a nursing diagnosis based on signs and symptoms, provide care before, during, and after surgeries and procedures, administer oxygen, medications, or treatments, collect blood and tissue samples, perform assessments and record vital signs and care details, perform wound care, review tests and lab results, give client-specific orders for care, communicate with physicians and other members of the health team, and much more.

In public health and community care settings, Registered Nurses may work in long-term care or assisted living facilities, community health facilities, and public health centres to provide all manner of nursing services including conducting assessments and making a nursing diagnosis, coordinating care with other health care providers, creating a health care plan based on the patient or client’s specific needs, administering oxygen, medications or other treatments, performing wound care, collecting samples, recording vital signs and care details, administering vaccinations, and much more.

In rural and remote settings, Registered Nurses are often one of the only health care providers in the area. In these settings, Registered Nurses who have completed additional certification education may undertake additional care services.

Why would I see a Registered Nurse?

British Columbians may see a Registered Nurse any time they visit a hospital or clinic to receive emergency or non-emergency care assessments and/or treatments; in their communities at private and walk-in clinics, community health centres, schools or other public institutions to receive nursing care, treatment, and counselling; in long-term, assisted living facilities and in-home to receive nursing assessment, care, and/or treatment; over the phone by calling 811 to receive non-emergency health advice and guidance; in mental health centres or community counselling centres to review medications and discuss mental, emotional and social health supports, and in virtually all other locations where health care is provided.

Where do Registered Nurses work?

Registered Nurses work in diverse roles and settings throughout the health care system including in all hospital departments and units, public health centres, long-term and assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, emergency relief programs, treatment centres, mental health centres, rural and remote nursing locations, private clinics and offices, in-home care, and anywhere else that health care is provided.

In addition to many of these direct care roles, Registered Nurses also work as educators in post-secondary nursing institutions and continuing education programs; managers and supervisors who oversee other nurses and health care providers; researchers who lead and participate in science- and evidence-based research projects and development; advocates who work to advance the nursing profession through policy change; and government employees who work collaboratively in departments and units focused on nursing and health services, community projects, education and labour development, and more.

Where can I find a Registered Nurse?

To speak with a Registered Nurse for non-emergency health advice, please visit HealthLink BC: Nursing Services or call 811.

To find community nursing services including that provided by a Registered Nurse, please visit the Province of BC Community Nursing webpage.

Please note that NNPBC is a professional association representing nurses and nurse practitioners in BC, and as such does not employ nurses or nurse practitioners for providing medical care. If you require urgent medical attention, please visit your local emergency department or call 911. If you are seeking medical advice from a licensed professional but do not require urgent medical attention, please call 811.

Other Resources

More questions about RNs?

RN Info Sheet